Russian oligarch and president of AS Monaco football club, Dmitry Rybolovlev, was arrested on Tuesday after a police investigation accused him of “corruption” and “influence peddling,” according to the newspaper Le Monde.
Monegasque police arrested the billionaire along with three others, whose identities were not revealed. Rybolovlev’s Monaco residence, was also searched by police on Tuesday morning, according to French media.
The Russian businessman is being investigated by the Prosecutor General of Monaco for “corruption” and “trading of active and passive influence”.
The charges relate to a case initially brought by Rybolovlev against Yves Bouvier, a Swiss art dealer. Rybolovlev accused Bouvier of swindling him out of 1 billion dollars through inflated commissions on the art work he sold to the billionaire.
In the course of the investigation, however, police obtained Ryblovlev’s lawyer’s phone which resulted in a far bigger scandal involving Rybolovlev’s close relations with senior government officials in Monaco.
Text messages on his lawyer’s phone revealed Rybolovlev’s attempts to curry favour with officials with the suspected aim of winning their support in his case against Bouvier.
Among the messages released were some about a visit Narmino made to Rybolovlev’s ski chalet in Gstaad five days before Bouvier’s arrest. Others discussed Bouvier’s upcoming trip to Monaco, according to a criminal complaint filed by Bouvier’s Swiss lawyer, alleging the improper contact violated Swiss bribery law. Narmino, a prominent figure in Monaco was forced to leave the post of Justice Minister as a result of the scandal.
Rybolovlev’s lawyers condemned the use of private messages to incriminate their client in a statement released on Tuesday evening. “We regret the violation of the secrecy of the investigation, and we ask that Dmitry Rybolovlev’s presumption of innocence is rigorously respected, his lawyers said.
Rybolovlev and the three others was released on Wednesday. The businessman remains under judicial control meaning he cannot discuss the case and he must be prepared to return to the court if summoned.